Situation in Japan

I’ve been hearing about news reports in Singapore with regard to Japan’s nuclear disaster from my dear sister and I thought it’d be good to talk a little about them.

Frankly, I haven’t heard any news here in Nagoya about people leaving Nagoya (and I admit that does not mean people are not leaving) but apparently that’s what’s being reported back home. And while the scenarios below are personal opinions, I hope it will get people to start looking at things with context and from more perspectives, rather than blind consumption.

People “Leaving Nagoya”?

There are six international airports here, starting from the north most:
– Chitose in Sapporo, Hokkaido
– Narita in Tokyo
– Haneda in Tokyo
– Centrair in Nagoya, Aichi
– Itami in Osaka
– Fukuoka in Fukuoka

If the news reports are anything to go by, people may be leaving from Nagoya rather than leaving Nagoya. The Centrair International Airport in Nagoya is slapped between two of the most populus cities in Japan (Tokyo and Osaka), and with Nagoya being among the bigger cities here, I believe it shouldn’t be a wonder that if people don’t want to return from Tokyo airports now, the next logical and closest airport to the Kanto region is here.

People Leaving Nagoya = Danger in Nagoya?

I have a ticket to leave Nagoya next week and while things have not been confirmed, I may actually return home for a bit. In which case, I would be among the statistics of people leaving Nagoya. But, is my return due to the situation here being dangerous? No. It’s because my parents are freaking out.

I believe news reports mostly just report numbers and then end-of-story. My question is if the news did say the reason for the departures. Because people are coming and going everyday.

Until now, I’ve read a lot of interviews of foreigners here saying things like “I’m leaving because my parents are terrified. I’ll probably come back in about a month.” I’ve yet seen any interviews that say “Things are getting seriously dangerous here. I’m leaving for good!”

Unfortunately, news of this kind will not go anything like “80% are leaving because their parents are worried, 15% are because they themselves are worried, 5% are because the situation is getting dangerous.” No. Doesn’t happen.

Radiation 20 times Normal  = “We’re Dying”?

Background: The average human receives approximately 2.4 millisieverts (mSv) of radiation exposure a year. Below is a little trivia that’s not so trivial now to keep things in context.

Chest x-ray: 0.04 mSv single dose
Cosmic rays: 0.24 mSv per year
Smoking 1.5 packs a day: 13 mSv per year
Flight crew working the New York-Tokyo route: 9 mSv per year

Based on readings taken on 16th March 2011, radiation levels in Tokyo was around 1 microsievert per hour. A microsievert is a thousandth of a millisievert. So for every one hour spent outdoors, a person’s body would take in 0.001 mSv of radiation. For every cigarette a person smokes, 0.0008 mSv of radiation is absorbed by the body. So what can people in Tokyo do now to maintain their lifespan?

Give up smoking.

Context, Context, Context

Analogical News Flash #1:
“Temperature increased 20 times in one day.”
Does that mean it is so hot, dangerous temperatures have been reached? No.
Putting things in context, it was 1 degree Celsius and it became 20 degree Celsius.

Analogical News Flash #2:
“Outdoor temperature is at 45 degrees.”
Does that mean people will die of heat stroke? No.
Again, putting things in context, the unit is Fahrenheit, which is around 7 degree Celsius.

A lot of news reports just keep throwing numbers at us. They don’t provide enough context. So please, if you really are concerned and interested to know what exactly is happening, make the effort to read up information outside whatever news source you are accessing.

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